Medical Decision Making

Produced by the HRC Foundation

Why is it important for long-term care communities to be attentive to an LGBTQ+ resident’s durable power of attorney for medical and financial decision-making?

LGBTQ+ people often rely on caregivers who are not legally recognized, such as unmarried partners and families of choice. Because of this, these caregivers can be excluded from decision-making on a loved one’s medical care and end-of-life plans, unless there are specific legal arrangements in place.

Without legal protections, such as durable power of attorney, most states will prioritize opposite-sex spouses and blood relatives for medical and long-term care decisions, including end-of-life care, regardless of the closeness of their relationship with the individual in question. These decisions may supersede closer, non-legal relationships. The problem is pervasive and some experts estimate that up to two-thirds of LGBTQ+ older adults do not have the necessary legal paperwork completed, leaving them unprepared and without needed legal protections in place.

It’s critically important for long-term care communities to cover this topic with residents, encouraging them to secure the necessary protections and then keeping a copy of important documents on file to be referenced in a time of need.

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